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PIA Press Release

Speculations on extension of PGMA's term limit totally baseless - Dureza

Manila (14 August) -- Press Secretary Jesus Dureza squelched as totally baseless opposition charges that a shift from presidential to a federal system of government through an amendment of the Constitution would open the way for President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to extend her term beyond 2010.

In radio interviews, Dureza stressed that Malacanang is supporting Senate Joint Resolution No. 10 because it jibes with the administration's and the Filipino people's aspirations for a lasting peace in Mindanao.

The Senate resolution calls for the convening of "Congress into a constituent assembly for the purpose of revising the Constitution to establish a Federal System of government."

Backed by 16 senators, or about two-thirds of the total membership of the upper chamber, among the principal authors of the resolution are Senate President Manuel Villar and Sen. Aquilino Pimentel Jr.

He pointed out that on various occasions in the past, the President reiterated that she would step down when her term ends in 2010.

"Hindi po siya magpapa-extend. Kaya nga sinusuportahan natin iyong sinabi ng mga senador na gagawin nila na magcha-charter change to Constituent Assembly, dahil iyong resolution na iyon, wala hong extension of term limit iyon. Klarong-klaro po iyon," Dureza said.

"Kung minsan kasi, masyadong negatibo tayo kaya pati iyong reporma natin na gusto nating ipairal ay parang nagkokontrol ng ating ginagawa… dapat naman tingnan natin kung ano iyong reporma," he added.

Among the main features of the Senate resolution is the creation of 11 states out of the Philippine Republic, including the Bangsa Moro State.

Dureza, who served as Presidential Adviser for the Peace Process (PAPP) before he was tapped by the President as press secretary, pointed out that the stalled memorandum of agreement (MOA) on Ancestral Domain with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) is good not only for the Muslims but also for the Christians not only in Mindanao but the entire country.

The MOA is pending review in the Supreme Court which issued a temporary restraining order (TRO) last week to stop the Philippine government from signing the agreement.

"Yong ancestral domain sa MOA, ito'y hindi lamang para sa Muslim community. This will bring peace to the whole of Mindanao, including Christians alike, dahil pagna-address natin iyong problema na iyan, then we will have peace and development in the whole of Mindanao, hindi lang sa Muslim communities, ano po.

"So, isa sa mga dati na natin sinasabi pa, siguro hindi lang nakinig ang bansa, the way to be able to do this is to amend the Charter," Dureza said.

Himself a Mindawanon, Dureza said that the agreement is intended "specifically to set up a system there (Mindanao) that will provide opportunity na lahat ng mga taga-Mindanao magkaisa.

"Ito iyong MOA natin doon sa MILF. Kasi iyong atin kasing negotiation with the MILF, para klaro sa lahat, hindi lang ito ho para sa MILF ha -- para sa buong Muslim communities ito at para din ito sa Christian communities dahil huhupa ang problema natin sa Mindanao," he said.

"So, nang napag-usapan iyan, ang sabi natin, naku, we cannot do--we know naman na ang ating alam, hindi puwedeng magawa ito kung hindi natin i-amyenda iyong Charter, specifically to set up a federal set-up in Southern Philippines in Mindanao for our Muslim communities.

"Kaya ang Resolution No. 10 na nakabinbin sa Senado, labing-anim ho ang nagsusuporta na diyan really to set up a federal system and among them the Bangsamoro state," he added.

Dureza said that the administration's support for the Senate resolution would, hopefully, hasten the government's earlier plan to grant the Muslims their own autonomous area, for starters.

"Ako, ang aking 'take' - personal 'take' as press secretary -- naku, alam natin na ang mga senador, paninindigan nila iyong kanilang katayuan. And so, pagsinuportahan iyan ng administrasyon ay mapabilis natin itong problema na ito at ma-set up agad natin iyong gusto nating i-set up for peace in the whole country," he said.

Dureza said the country should be thankful to Senator Pimentel for authoring the resolution whose clear aim is only to shift to federalism and not to extend anybody's term, nor for the government to shift to a parliamentary system.

"Dapat siguro magpasalamat ang bansa kay Senator Nene (Pimentel), dahil klarong-klaro iyong kanyang adhikain -- federalismo -- at alam ko ang taga-Mindanao ay kasamang-kasama diyan, front seats kami diyan sa kanyang federal trajectory," he said.

"Kaya sinuportahan iyong kanyang Senate Resolution No. 10 dahil klarong-klaro doon na ang sadya noon walang extension of term limit at walang shift to the parliamentary system. Klarong-klaro ho ang posisyon diyan namin, na doon kami susuporta sa kanya.

"At alam naman natin na kung meron mga ibang tao diyan na may ibang agenda, with due respect to them, at hindi sadya iyong ating objective of a federal set-up pero sasakyan ito, definitely alam ko na hindi makakalusot rin iyan dahil nandiyan ang Senado at nandiyan si Nene Pimentel at iyong mga taga-Mindanao na ang adhikain lamang ay federal system to stop it and will frustrate any of these attempts," he said.

Dureza added: "That's the reason why ang ating suporta doon sa kanilang Resolution No. 10. And I hope… tuluy-tuloy na itong Charter change to bring about (a) federal set-up dahil 16 of the senators sumusuporta na doon, no less than the principal author is Senate President Villar."

"At kung magsusuporta ngayon ang administrasyon congressmen doon sa House… eh di tuluy-tuloy ang Charter change. But it is really specifically to support Resolution No. 10, at ang tingin ko naman, ang Palasyo will not support anything outside of that dahil alam mo naman magsabing, 'uy! ginagamit na naman ang Charter change para tuloy na naman si Presidente.' Hindi ho, that is very clear in our mind-that is very clear kaya iyon ang aming punto diyan." (PIA-MMIO) [top]

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